Is There a Word I Can Use When My Dog is About to Break a Command?

QUESTION:

I was just wondering… Is there a “between” word to use when your dog is about to do something wrong? I was watching my dog’s body language and I knew he was about to get up. I was wanting to say something to warn him, to kind of remind him what he should be doing. But, I remembered in your DVDs that you say to never repeat commands. What could I have said or done in this situation?

 

ANSWER:

You’re not alone. Many dog owners are very tempted to want to say something to stop their dogs from breaking a command, or from doing something wrong. They easily fall into the bad habit of saying things like “Uh, uh…” or “No…no…” as a reminder or warning, hoping to prevent the dog from making a mistake.

However, one of the keys to success when using my Nature-Based Discipline, Praise & Play Method is to actually give your dog the opportunity to choose i.e. to either comply with your expectations and receive a reward for good behavior (praise, affection and play – never treats!), or to disobey and endure the appropriate consequence (as per my DVDs – and also according to the individual “Level” of your particular dog). This is, of course, once you’ve taken adequate time – as my Perfect Dog system instructs – to teach your dog the particular command and communicate the fullness of your expectations.

Once a dog clearly knows what’s expected as far as how to comply with a command, the dog then needs to be given complete freedom to either obey the command until properly released (review my “Step, Clap & Okay” release), or break the command before the release.

If you always step in (or even just sometimes step in) and stop your dog from making the choice to break the command, you never truly build your dog’s respect for your authority. On the other hand, when your dog consistently stays in position until properly released – without a word or even hand motion from you, you know your dog has submitted to your leadership.

As this kind of obedience continues, you’re able to build trust in your dog that he will self-govern within the rules and boundaries you’ve set for him without needing reminding from you. This is your ultimate goal. (If it’s not then it should be.) It will maximize your dog’s safety and quality of life as you’re able to give him all kinds of privileges you’re were never able to before.

Your dog will come to not just know but also fully accept the “rules of the pack.” This means he will – of his own accord – stay within the parameters and what is allowed and what’s not allowed despite external temptations and distractions, and also despite his internal canine instincts (e.g. to chase birds). This will bring total peace of mind for you. Plus, you’ll find yourself not just loving your dog, but absolutely enjoying him as well!

– Don Sullivan, “The DogFather”

 

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